Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Book Review: Wishin' and Hopin' by Wally Lamb

Wishin' and Hopin': A Christmas Story by Wally Lamb is a nostalgic short novel set in 1964 Connecticut.  The book tells the story of Felix Funicello (distant cousin of Annette) and his adventures in fifth grade from early in the school year through the Christmas pageant.

Felix has a loving family who own a lunch counter by the town bus depot.  He is a bright child (with a quick wit) and he bears a resemblance to comic strip character Dondi.  I was not familiar with Dondi, so I looked up the character and found this picture:

Felix wants to best the other academic star in the class, an unctious little girl named Rosalie Twerski.  He wants to spend time with friends, including Lonny Flood and new girl Zhenya Kabakova.  He wants to get along with the nuns who are his teachers, including the moody Sister M. Dymphna and her replacement, Madame Marguerite Frechette.  He wants to survive the Christmas pageant, with all the drama it brings to his fifth grade classroom.

This is a short novel, told with great humor and vivid characterizations.  I loved the nostalgic description of a 1964 childhood.  This book reminded me a bit of the movie A Christmas Story, and even more so, the writing of Jean Shepherd (whose stories inspired that movie).  I would recommend it highly for a holiday read.